Joburg hospital psychiatric ward delayed yet again and cost triples

The much-needed renovation of the psychiatric ward at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital has been delayed yet again by more than a year and the cost has more than tripled to R34 million.

This was disclosed yesterday by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in an oral reply to my questions in the Legislature.

The MEC stated that the contractor had exceeded the variation order by more than 20% and was terminated.

A new tender for the work will go out this month and it was expected that the ward will be completed by March next year.

This will be the third company to work on this ward which was originally supposed to be completed in 2014.

The initial contractor, Chriselda Building Construction, was terminated after it only completed Phase 1 of the project which was the doctors rooms.

The project was re-advertised in August 2015 and a replacement contractor was supposed to complete the job in September last year at a cost of about R10 million.

I hope that a decent contractor is chosen this time who can finally fix this ward which is currently not suitable for patients.

Male and female patients are not properly separated, and there are only 20 beds. The plan is to expand to 40 beds and ensure a congenial environment for psychiatric patients.

The latest problem is that the baths and the showers have been barred to the patients for four months because of water leaks into other wards when they are used. They have to use basins or go to another ward to wash.

It is unacceptable that vulnerable psychiatric patients are treated in such poor conditions at a top hospital.

Negligence and probable corruption are to blame for the frequent appointment of contractors on health projects who cannot do the job but still get paid.

The Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department needs to choose building companies based on merit and not on political connections otherwise patients will continue to suffer from poor facilities.

Deaths of scrap metal hijackers a testament to ANC failure to create jobs

In the last eight months, 10 people have died while trying to steal metal parts from moving trucks. Many others have been severely injured after falling underneath these trucks, while trying to grab metal parts which would later be sold to scrap yards.

Scrap metal ‘hijackers’, like many other criminals, are desperate to feed their families as they don’t have jobs, with youth unemployment now at 38,6% in our country.

Premier Makhura must answer to this issue. I will write to him and request that he informs the DA whether his MECs of Transport and Community Safety are aware of this issue and what they are doing to address it in the immediate future. The Premier must account for why his government is failing to create jobs for the people of this province.

A job is not a nice-to-have but rather a necessity to move forward in life. If people do not have jobs, they cannot feed their families and they cannot progress. It is crucial that government enables job-creation and that it assists and empowers those who cannot fend for themselves. Many young people are turning to crime because the ANC-run Gauteng Government has failed to enable job-creation.

Recently the Gauteng Provincial Legislature debated a motion to assist in formalizing the informal recycling sector. The scrap metal industry must be regulated to prevent the sale of stolen goods into the sector. Therefore, the Gauteng Economic Development MEC, must come to the fore to create an environment in which those who process scrap goods can do so safely and within a regulated framework.

DA-led governments in Gauteng show clear signs of unemployment being in decline thanks to the policies that have been geared to job-creating growth and stimulating investor confidence. They are ensuring growth by making safety and delivery key priorities. The DA is the only party that can bring about the job-creating change that people need.

Thembisile Yende: Policing resources are affecting the Springs community

I will write to the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety to inquire whether there are any plans to address the spate of crimes against women in Springs in Ekurhuleni. I will ask whether there are sufficient visible policing patrols and what the police to population ratio is for the Springs area.

Following the mysterious death of an Eskom employee, Thembisile Yende, the autopsy report has revealed that Yende suffered bruises on her neck. This suggests that she may have been strangled to death and points to yet another act of femicide.

One man and four women are due to appear in the Springs Magistrate’s Court today following their having been charged with human trafficking. The alleged perpetrators were arrested after the police raided a brothel in Springs.

A woman, who endured her second gang-rape in Springs, has come to the fore stating that the justice system is failing her. Her alleged perpetrators have been released while the investigation commences.

These instances are only a few examples of the ongoing crimes against women. It seems that local police are unable to meet the need in fighting and preventing crime in Springs.

Criminals believe that they are free to commit lewd acts of crime against women because they fear no recourse. We encourage community members to report crimes to local police officials as they play a crucial role in the fight against crime. However, it is only through adequate policing by means of patrols, visible policing and sufficiently manned stations, that we will see a real decrease in crime.

The shortage of police resources in Gauteng is having a marked impact on women in the Springs community. The DA wants answers from the Gauteng Government as to what it plans to do to address these crimes.

Political will needed to manage water security

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature by the DA’s Gauteng Spokesperson on Finance, Adriana Randall MPL, and the DA Gauteng Committee Member of SCOPA, Dr Heinrich Volmink MPL.

The DA led a debate on a Motion we tabled, in the Gauteng Legislature regarding the sustainable re-industrialisation and revitalisation of Gauteng’s economy to secure the water resources of the Province.

Speech by
Adriana Randall MPL

“Water should not be compromised in economic transformation”

• Water is by far the most valuable and scarce resource on our planet, and in the light of Gauteng’s strategy to re-industrialize and revitalise our economy, it must be treated as a strategic issue.
• As unemployment increases, currently at 27, 7%, more and more South Africans will look to Gauteng as the place to find a job and contribute to the economy. This rapid growth with its accompanying economic development and industrialization has already transformed water ecosystems and resulted in a massive loss of biodiversity.
• An ever tightening public purse is an important indicator that the government sector needs to find new and innovative ways of doing more with fewer financial and natural resources.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by
Dr Heinrich Volmink MPL

“Political will needed to manage water security”

• The right to access water is enshrined in our Constitution. Not only is this right essential for life and well-being, it is also necessary for the vital economic recovery that our country so desperately needs.
• The City of Johannesburg – led by the DA – increased its budget for Johannesburg Water by 13% to R9.6 billion, with R795 million earmarked for capital expenditure.
• This vital investment is already yielding dividends for our citizens, with the Diepsloot and Orange Farm Water Reservoirs nearing completion, and major projects planned for Ivory Park, Midrand, Soweto, Alexandra and other areas. This will help to ensure water security for thousands of households and hundreds of small businesses in our province.
• Let us focus our collective will on ensuring that water services are sufficiently delivered in Gauteng; so that we can protect not only the livelihoods but, indeed, the very lives of the people we have sworn to serve.

The full speech can be obtained here.

29 Esidimeni patients still at NGOs

Twenty-nine mental health patients who were formerly with Life Esidimeni are still residing in six NGOs where they were transferred last year.

This was disclosed today by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in an oral reply to my questions at a sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.

Ramokgopa said that these patients and their families refused relocation and her department was engaging with them in this regard.

R6 million has been allocated by the National Health Department to assist with the transfer process, but no money has yet been paid to relatives of the deceased patients as a process was being followed in this regard as recommended by the Health Ombudsman.

The Gauteng Health Department has done well in transferring more than 800 patients to facilities that comply with the required standards.

I can understand that there are a small number of patients who are happy with the NGOs where they are currently, which is not a problem so long as these NGOs are properly licensed.

But I am disappointed at the slow process of restitution which would include monetary compensation to relatives of the deceased patients, bearing in mind that no amount of money can compensate for the trauma that they have suffered.

Ramokgopa claims that the relatives have received support in various ways but would not confirm whether they were even assisted with funeral costs.

There is unfortunately a long way to go before there is a full resolution of the outstanding issues of the Esidimeni tragedy, including the prosecution of all those responsible for more than 100 deaths.

Humanity lacking as Gauteng hospitals turn away asylum seeker in labour

The Gauteng Health Department needs to seriously examine how three state hospitals could refuse admission to a Congolese asylum seeker who ended up giving birth at the Park Station in a desperate attempt to find a hospital that would take her in.

Francine Kalala was first refused admission at the Tshwane District Hospital when she arrived there in labour on Thursday last week.

After the Steve Biko Hospital also refused her admission, she and her husband Serge boarded a Gautrain to get to a Johannesburg hospital that they thought would take them in.

She gave birth on the floor at Park Station, and an ambulance took her and the baby to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital which also barred her access. After 8 hours, she and her baby finally got treatment at the Hillbrow Community Health Centre.

This shameful saga exposes a highly disturbing streak of inhumanity in the hospital staff who contravened the constitutional provision to provide basic health care to everyone, including foreigners.

This is probably not an isolated case.

The Gauteng Health Department needs to enforce the constitution and ensure that no person in need is ever turned away from a public hospital.

Gauteng government failing youth as more lives are lost to Bluetooth

A young man has died from a Bluetooth overdose in GaRankuwa in Tshwane, shortly after having been released from prison. As we approach the 16th of June, it is especially sad to see that drug abuse and related criminal activity continue to claim the lives of young people.

In my capacity as Leader of the Opposition in the Provincial Legislature, I will ask the MEC for Social Development in Gauteng, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, whether her department has completed any assessment of the impact and extent of drug abuse on the people of this province. We need to understand how many people are affected, directly and indirectly, by drug abuse.

I will further request that she provide a detailed plan as to how her department will deal with rehabilitating those addicted to substance abuse. It is time that the ANC-run Provincial Government come to the fore will real solutions to this crippling problem.

Drug abuse is a damning social ill and Bluetooth is a particularly disturbing form therefo. Nyope users inject themselves with the blood drawn from another user who has just taken a dose, in order to get high. The health risks are high with the transfer of diseases like HIV/Aids being a particular concern.

The DA-led City of Tshwane has strongly condemned drug abuse and it is taking action. The Mayor has embarked on drug busts in the city, to crack down on drug abuse and related crimes. Drug peddlers have been caught and labs used to manufacture drugs have shut down. To help those who are addicted to substances, the City has recommitted itself to supporting NGO’s who work to rehabilitate those in need. We need the provincial government to step up and deal decisively with drug abuse.

Now more than ever, South Africans need to be focused on saving our country from a worrying trajectory. We need our young people to be capacitated to access jobs and opportunities. We especially need them to become entrepreneurs and job-creators themselves.

It is time for the Gauteng Government to show a commitment to taking real action against drug abuse, they have been dragging their feet for far too long. The DA will continue to do all that in can to fight the scourge of drug abuse and related crimes in Gauteng.

Municipal IQ rates Midvaal best

The Democratic Alliance has long held up the DA-governed Midvaal Local Municipality, under the capable and energetic leadership of Mayor Bongani Baloyi, as an example of the good work that the DA can do when it is given an opportunity to govern for the people.

It, therefore, comes as no surprise that the recently released Dodgy Expenditure Monitorreport by Municipal IQ, rates the DA-governed Midvaal as the top performer when compared to other local municipalities. This means that the levels of unauthorised, irregular, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure (UIFW) in Midvaal sits at 0% of the municipality’s annual budget. Indicating that the people’s money goes directly to the delivery of services and the creation of jobs, in line with the DA’s manifesto and commitment to good governance.

It is clear that under the DA, the people’s lives are better and that there is a guarantee that politicians work in service of the people by putting the community and service delivery first.

In the 2016 Local Government Elections, the people of Midvaal voted for the DA to Keep Making Progress, and we intend on doing exactly that. In his budget speech, Mayor Baloyi charged that “Midvaal can and will be the shining light of Gauteng and the envy of South Africa.”

In the recently tabled budget, some of the commitments made to the people of Midvaal include:

  • Upgrading the electricity network
  • Improving water delivery for townships
  • Tarring roads
  • Delivering 23 070 housing opportunities by 2021
  • Spending 30% locally which will benefit the youth

Midvaal is clearly leading the way in Local Municipality excellence, showing what the DA can and will do for the people of Gauteng when the people vote for the DA to govern the Province in 2019.

Congratulations Midvaal! Congratulations Mayor Bongani Baloyi!

DA welcomes arrest of SAPS officers for alleged cable theft

Two police officers from Diepkloof, Soweto, have been arrested after an attempted cable theft at Zakkariya Park over the weekend. This comes in the wake of reports that the train collision that took place in Elandsfontein in Ekurhuleni last week was caused by cable theft.

I will submit questions to the MEC for Community Safety in Gauteng, Sizakele Nkosi-Malabane, in the Gauteng Legislature to determine how many police officers are being investigated for involvement in cable theft. I will also inquire how many of those have been arrested and of those arrests, how many have led to guilty verdicts.

It is deeply concerning that the South African Police Service (SAPS) has been infiltrated by criminals. Who will protect South Africans if the police themselves are criminal?

The Metrorail service is highly vulnerable to cable theft as railway lines are open and must therefore be patrolled. It cannot be tolerated that those who are meant to prevent deadly cable theft are guilty of cable theft themselves.

The DA remains concerned about whether the SAPS and Metrorail have a memorandum of understanding in terms of who is responsible for what aspects regarding commuter safety and security of rail stock.

We welcome these arrests as a step in the right direction, regarding the curbing of cable theft. The alleged corrupt actions of the arrested policemen stands to add to the negative relationship between the public and the police service. We must be able to rely on the SAPS and trust them to serve us and to secure our safety.

979 163 beneficiaries affected by late NGO payments

Gauteng Social Development MEC, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza has revealed that a total of 2654 NGOs were affected by non-payments affecting almost a million beneficiaries in the province.

Despite MEC Mayathula-Khoza’s denial that the payment crisis was under control, in a reply to a DA question she revealed that only 14% of the NGO Annual Allocation has been transferred.

421 NGOs are still awaiting payment.

Click here to view the response.

The DA has been reliably informed that a number of NGOs had not received their monthly grant funding for the 2017/18 financial year earlier this year.

I have requested the MEC to establish an investigation into the matter and to fast track payments, yet she has failed to respond.

Late payments severely impact the services that need to be rendered by NGOs in the province.

MEC Mayathula-Khoza’s office must prioritise its functions in order to get service level agreements signed, payments transferred and shirk less of its responsibilities.

The DA will follow up with the NGOs who have reported non-payments and hold the department accountable on their promise to have all NGOs paid this month.